Looking at the guy lying to my left I strained my eyes to read his medical file. “Found running the wrong way up a street”. I couldn’t help but laugh. I asked him his name, which he could remember. Like me he was now drinking a mixture of water and isotonic and had also a drip in his arm. I had discovered I had been down 6 litres of water when they stretchered me off the course but at least I could remember being stretchered off, which was more than could be said for my new friend who hadn’t remember what street he’d been running up when they took him in!
What I had trouble remembering was my home phone-number. That was normal the doctor told me. She mentioned how during extreme dehydration, all remaining sugars are diverted from the more mundane tasks like being used to generate memory to being absorbed by vital organs so I guess remembering your phone-number is not vital enough. Slowly though they more I drank, the more the numbers came back to me until I had the requisite amount of digits that rendered my phone home to Ireland meaningful. While it might be too dramatic to say I owed the female doctor my life I certainly owed her mobile credit as she gave me her phone to ring Ireland and my brother so he could begin the relaying of messages to my parents who were at the waiting line now wondering where on earth must I have got to?!
My final memories of the race where an implosion of our group somewhere around mile 19 (all of this I can no longer be certain of). If there was one amongst us who wasn’t dehydrated I would have been surprised. However, I probably was amongst the worst of us. The next day my neck was still stiff and sore so badly had it been lopping left and right in the hot Edinburgh midday sun.
We had ran out by the coast, completed a loop and were in the process of returning towards the finish at Musselborough race-course. There was no wind coming back. Just long straight roads and for a while waves of runners going the opposite direction who had yet to complete the loop. While seeing those behind you should in theory make you feel better it felt as if the energy was all flowing the other way and to this day I hate races where you have to run back on yourself and other competitors.
My final stand came 4 miles from the end when now delusional I believed that there was just 400 metres left. I kept wondering when the finish line would materialise and that was when I stumbled. A fellow runner grabbed me and I asked him to help me across the line as I could still break 3 hours. I thought this was karma and that the spirit of Donal Cashin would carry me over. With 4 miles to go I couldn’t have been more wrong and no sooner had I been left upright on my own I collapsed again.
It seemed to take an age for them to finally move me. I am surprised I didn’t pass out and needed a tremendous effort not to do so. I couldn’t open my eyes and kept saying to people to call my parents so they wouldn’t get worried. Then I got a sense of calm as they lifted and stretchered me off, followed by a sense of distress as I became overwhelmed with guilt for putting my folks through this before finally experienced a tremendous sense of love for my doctor. I guess that was kind of like the Stockholm syndrome for those charged with bringing you back to life.
As I drank more and more fluids and the IV drip kicked in these overpowering emotions soon left me and I began to deal with the practical question as to how do I get back to the B’n’B? When I finally left the first-aid tent the thought of walking the final 4 miles was briefly tempting (I mean a sub 5 hour marathon is good too). However, I wouldn’t get as good an invite as I had from my fellow ‘collapsee’ whose family had arrived to bring him the right way home, thus dropping me at the B’n’B and with my parents.
Thankfully I soon recovered even if my crampy legs and bruised ego remained for a little longer and by night-fall was comfortable enough to meet my friends Damo, Jeanette and Paraic for a drink.
Looking back there are regrets on Edinburgh but for a good while, the biggest one was that the feckers never gave me a marathon technical t-shirt. Yes, I didn’t complete the 26.2 miles. Yes, I am not a full Edinburgh marathon runner. But to this day I still feel that I left enough of me out on the streets of the city to warrant a t-shirt.
Strength & conditioning.